Wednesday, April 11, 2007

disFUNKtion Episode IX

Alright. An explanation is in order. Before founding Aletheia Stage & Film Co., Kristina and I did numerous productions with (and for) the youth at Sagemont Church.

In the spring of 2002, then-Sagemont Youth Pastor, Wes Holloman asked us to do a video series of short films designed to coincide with their camp theme of "Biblical Family." The four films would actually be one narrative (not documentary) shown in four parts -complete with cliffhanger endings, etc. Knowing that my first film ever was to be a 40 minute short with a few hundred dollars and some students with little to no acting experience, I figured we would do best to pay tribute to silly, low-budget, poorly acted films, with cheesy special effects. We found inspiration in, of all places, the "blacksploitation" and psychedelic rock 'n' roll films of the 60s and 70s -"A Hard Day's Night," "Help," "Yellow Submarine," "Head," "Tommy," etc. The result was "disFUNKtion Episodes I-IV."

Though I find them downright embarrassing, the epidodes were quite a hit at the camp. So in 2003, when we were asked to do a parody of the TV show Alias (to coincide with the theme of finding one's identity in Christ), I decided to advocate for a sequel to "disFUNKtion" instead. For one, I never shared their enthusiasm for Alias (though there is a brief homage to it in the above episode). Two, there was only going to be a slight increase in talent (the students and I would be doing our SECOND film) and budget.

I am less embarrassed by the 2003 sequels (Episode IX-XII) and have talked myself into posting them here. Despite all their obvious flaws, I think there is a kernel of something worth pursing. Though I did not realize it at the time, it was my first foray into cultural subversion, which Jacques Ellul describes as the act of "taking a text and giving its objective sense a new turn so as to make it say something else." He says that the Biblical writers "changed certain terms [from neighboring pagan cultures] and put the text in a context that altered its original sense...even though the phrases remain the same, the meaning is radically broken." This is what I tried to do with the art and icons of 20th century pop culture. If I was playing with fire, I probably singed my eyebrows.

Don't worry. They've grown back. More explanation tomorrow, when I post Episode X.

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